Thursday, September 30, 2010

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out...

I am fairly obsessed with Cosmic Love, coming up on the Florence + The Machine craze a bit behind.  It's so much fun to try and sing along and just wail your heart out.

The last few days, I have been interviewing for a new job which looks like it may be a go.  I have a trial day Saturday, and I'm really excited.  Mostly, because I have no experience in retail, I think the managers want to make sure I'm not incapable.  So, for an outfit that was interview-appropriate, I adapted a favorite look:
These shoes I got from my favorite vintage store in Lille, France.   As I added things to my check-out pile (I was over-excited about my first paycheck in euros), the prices of each piece were reduced.  What I bought that day have remained staples for the last two years.  They included a favorite, EVERYDAY purse and a leather jacket.
The belt, of course, from that renowned box.  Mummy bought classics.  And the skirt I got from a funny thrift chain in France, it's a Parisian designer, 100% wool and was... 16 euros maybe?  I think from the 70's.
Shifting topics, something I might love as much as vintage accessories is taking pictures of sunsets.  To end these last few days of heat, and what heat it was, we finally got fog.  And a fiery coucher de soleil

That is all for now.  We get to see The Black Keys, so wish me luck in putting together an outfit.  I have been thinking it over now for a few days.  Ok, maybe not days, but it's so much fun to be able to push boundaries with outfits when you're going out.  As The Sartorialist advocates based on the Dries Van Noten S/S 2011 show he reviewed, I may try shopping in my dad's closet.  I've been eyeing a great navy blazer with darts that open from the bottom and big, nautical-themed gold buttons.  No matter where you are, it is early fall, I think maybe officially here, and so maybe that means for you apple-picking or staying out of the rain.  No matter what, hope your leaves are changing color!  With love, Catherine

C'est pas chandeleur mais...

Chandeleur is a holiday in France, Candlemas in English.  Anyways, when I lived in Dijon, I learned how to flip a crêpe.  Traditionally, you hold a coin in your hand while doing it and if you catch the crepe, it means prosperity for you and your loved ones for the year to come.  Well, I can't wait until February to feast on crêpes, so I decided to whip some up now.
It's actually the small café Alice Waters founded after the success of Chez Panisse that features these delectable treats as a fixture on the menu.   Buckwheat crêpes (krampouz in Breton, and Mission, SF eatery, Ti Couz) in France are topped only with savory things.  The mix (pâte), however, is very simple and dry, sometimes made only with buckwheat flour and water.  The pâte to follow is more involved, requiring a cup of flat beer.  Both necessitate a rest time of 2 hours before cooking for the flour to absorb the moisture.  

My mom has always been a devotee to Alice Waters.  Reading the forward in the cookbook, Waters really did start using buzzwords like sustainable and local 30 years ago.  The book is older than I am:

Because this recipe is nontraditional, until I went to France, I thought it was cheating to use a white flour recipe for sweet crêpes.  I was raised on these, and Café Fanny serves them both with sweet and savory toppings. A secret?  Flat beer! 
The beer produces this tangy, yeasty flavor.  Now for cooking:

 My favorite: sucrée
Organic plain yogurt with fresh organic plums.  Alice Waters would have it no other way.  And later that night, a friend sought refuge from the heat outside:

I put him outside, in a rosemary patch. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Accessory breakdown

Hello readers.  I've been on that job hunt and thus satisfying my OCD by building resumes.  Yes, with an "s."  Turns out, you CAN spend hours formatting only indenting down to the last hundreth of an inch.

Summer has arrived here, allowing for shorts and tank-tops at night.  It's almost too hot, really.

My aunt sent us home from her house with the ultimate accessoire de maman, gardenias.  When I was little, after errands, my mom and I would always stop at a small florist in Berkeley, Jutta's, where I would get to pick out one gardenia.  It was the only thing I ever treated delicately.  If you touch the petals at all, they turn brown as a paper bag.
I realized I've talked up vintage accessories, but haven't really focused in on some of my favorites.  The belt was my mother's, providing that pop of red.  The chain-link enamel bracelet was my mom's, the pendant is vintage.  That bracelet is from an unknown source, though there's something Italian about it to me.  I think mostly it reminds me of Venetian glass.  The shorts I cut from $2 Bill Blass jeans (they were redlined, half off), from St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift on S. Congress in Austin, TX.  It's my favorite street.  Jo's coffee is unbeatable. 

A few years ago, all of my mom's jewelry was stolen.  What was most shattering about it was that much of it had come from all over the world.  She wasn't one to collect diamonds but rather unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, some notable favorites from my parents' late honeymoon in Oaxaca, MX.  As a little girl, I would go to her room, stand in front of her jewelry stand, and put her rings on my fingers.  I was never to wander while accessorized.  A favorite of mine was a brown topaz ring that was so 70's.  Everything was taken, dumped into her suitcase, empty drawers left on the bed.

Which is why, when we found an old jewelry box in the closet, it was amazing to find pieces like her prom medallion from 1961 and this bracelet.  It must have been the things she didn't wear anymore, put aside to be rediscovered like a real treasure chest.

These sandals were an amazing 2-for-almost-1 buy in Paris.  I couldn't decide between two colors and they salesman finally gave up and said, I'll just throw in the 2nd pair for 5 euros.  Good thing, because I have lived in them the last two summers.  This navy pair was inaugurated by a May rainstorm and a  2 am climb through Montmartre.  And getting lost on the boulevard Barbès-Rochechouart.  Someone once made fun of me in that particular metro station because I was repeating the word Rochechouart again and again.  I always thought it was Ro-shh-shwar, but it's actually Roche-shoe-r.  I digress.

The last two years, around this time, I have been on my way back to France.  Having that change has resulted in a deep-seated nostalgia. This nostalgia continues next post with a feature on buckwheat crêpes (a variation of the Breton krampouz).  On a bien mangé!


P.S. A crepe maker almost like that scene in Amélie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Multi-Subject Post

Our last couple of meals have been built on an avoidance of doing groceries.  The fridge is looking skeletal.  Last night, I finally stopped at an oft-wondered about Indian place rather than walking past as I usually do.  Not many people in my family like Indian so I had to jump on the chance to be ordering solo.  I started out with a Mango lassi (yogurt drink) while waiting for lamb korma.  The order included a dipping sauce which I'm inclined by my tastebuds to guess was tamarind.  This fruit also translates marvelously to frozen fruit pops.  There was even a cinnamon stick in my perfectly-seasoned rice, which was also so, so good.
A cinnamon stick, I swear
I wonder if much of the Indian food in restaurants is completely ordinary everyday cooking and it just seems this complex to me.  Maybe that should be my new endeavor... cooking Indian.  Yet it could end so badly...  Anyone have personal experiences cooking Indian food?

The night before, I adopted my sister's recipe for sauerkraut, using red cabbage and wine vinegar.  I also braised french beans in pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.

My roommates, like me, leap for Acme bread:
Tim manages to mix denim.  He's classy.  I tried it out:
But kept the outfit in.  I'm hearing some comments that people are over the denim on denim thing... I've loved some outfits but I think the key is making sure the pieces contrast yet both are in current on-trend washes.

I've become partial to waking up to iced coffee Saturday mornings.  Icing hot coffee or simply letting it cool sometimes produces a bitter taste that puts me off.  I read about cold brewing and while it requires the least bit of night-before prep, the result is worth the effort:
You can cold-brew really in anything, from a regular glass or mason jar to a pot-full, should you anticipate guests.  And you might want to.  Throw coffee grinds in, add cold water, place in fridge.  That's all, and it's delicious.   The great thing about a French press is that you don't have to strain it afterwards.
Until the next post, Catherine

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Walked away from Givenchy.

I went to my first Estate Sale today, since I usually, frequently, longingly, drive by signs at inconvenient times.  Oh boy.  I tried on an 80's (I think) Givenchy Sport tennis sweater but didn't feel as moved by it as I would have hoped.  I am, however, obsessed with a BEAUTIFUL antique trunk at what-seemed-a-quite-affordable price.  Something in this vein,  but with cleaner edges, more simple, and less weathered.  Without a job, and really without my own living space, it wouldn't be a prudent expenditure.  Some day.  I hope when that day comes, I'll still have the time and energy to comb through estate sales and make my home a wonderful and eclectic (possibly uncluttered?) collection of renewed, re-lovable pieces.

For my first real apartment this past year in France, I engaged in urban gleaning, inspired by director Agnès Varda from, "Les glaneurs et la glaneuse" ("The Gleaners and I").  Which meant when people put out broken drawers and decimated bedroom sets, it all became public property.  Like a garage sale, where all is free.  My friends even would call me with sightings, only to sometimes arrive minutes later and have the piece be gone.  One night, when toting an immense bulletin board found in the middle of a run (ok, 2 blocks into the run...) I came upon two young frenchmen.  Attached to their bikes were small carts full of their own trésors glanés.  I envied their carts.  They seemed a touch suspicious of me (the French rarely exercise in public, nor go out in vêtements de sport) but after a small chat, we realized our mission in common.  I wonder what they did with their finds.  My favorite was a runged back of a chair, salvaged out of a huge mess of broken wood (beds, dressers, etc).  I hung the piece on a curtain hook next to my window (no curtain because of the volets, or shutters outside) and then placed hangers adorned with coats and scarves on the tiered rungs.  I seriously considered sending it back to the states.  TIP: Vinegar makes a great wood polish/cleaner!

To readers, I would love to hear about some of your inspiration for your living space.  Favorite tchotchke?  Statement piece?  

Here's to Friday, wishing you some quality relaxation these next days.

Bon weekend.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh where do my bluebird fly?

The Tallest Man on Earth: Where Do My Bluebird Fly from on Vimeo.

Last night was our devouring of the final product.  I hope to do this again, quite soon.  It was delicious and fairly easy.  I added red potatoes, celery, 1/3 of an onion, green beans, carrots.  The leftover chicken shredded itself in the cooking.

We topped it off with brown rice and rigatoni pasta, it became more of a stew.  I'd probably tone it down a bit next time.

We've had a few more gorgeous days... at one point yesterday, I looked out and the SF bay looked like a mirror, the way the sun was glaring off of it.  My dinky camera couldn't catch the sentiment, so I decided, if I could see it in my sunglasses, so could, of course, the camera lens.  The result:
Who needs glasses to be rose-colored when it's just as grand in blue?  Or so I think.  (P.S. I learned today that the Facebook logo is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind.  It's the clearest color to him)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Garden

Cat. Fish.

The other night, I decided to try my hand at catfish.  With much of the fish I know and love on Seafood Watch's "avoid" list (halibut, tuna...), it seemed appropriate to branch out.  The movement towards sustainable fishing advocates eating certain types of fish if they're farmed, rather than wild, and  vice-versa.  Farmed US catfish earns a "Best Choice" rating, making it one of the farmed species that is sustainably produced.  Searching "Salmon" will result in an amazingly varied report on which species of salmon caught where are a good option for consumption or should be avoided.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers printable pocket guides if you're interested in learning more about choosing what kind of fish to order off menus or pick up at the market.  Farmed US catfish earns a "Best Choice" rating, making it one of the farmed species that is sustainably produced. 
I oven-baked the catfish in olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and juice and rinds of lime and lemons from the tree.  I served it with rice vinegar-braised chard and brown rice.  Fifteen minutes at 420° and this is how my dinner guest felt about it:
(We're big fans of the "Thumbs Up")

I'll get money, I'll get funny again

"Start a War" by The National.  Yesterday, I decided to ride the Marine Stripes wave while the temperate Bay Area weather still permits.  I threw on my boyfriend's 501's - complete with authentic wear and tears.  I topped it all off with a black fitted blazer but didn't photograph it.

The shirt, belt, and enamel bracelet all belonged to my mother.

Vintage Accessories

My boyfriend and I went to see The Tallest Man on Earth Monday 9/13 at the Fillmore. He was amazing. And I chose to take advantage of an outing by trying out the headband craze. I used a black lace sash from my mom's box o' belts.

First Chicken Stock

Stewed some veggies and a somewhat eaten chicken = my own stock.

Looking forward to adding red potatoes, celery, carrots, pasta, and brown rice for dinner tonight.